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‘Engage all stakeholders in TPPA talks’

 | July 24, 2013

MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai wants the International Trade and Industries Ministry to engage all stakeholders immediately to resolve any misunderstanding.

PETALING JAYA: Lack of transparency on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is causing a lot of uneasiness among the people, said MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai.

“It’s time the International Trade and Industries Ministry (MITI) start engaging all stakeholders, including the business chambers and the people,” he said.

The government is currently engaged in US-led TPPA talks with several developed nations which would compel markets to liberalise and open to competition from well funded foreign corporations.

The agreement, however, drew flak from various quarters who claimed that the TPPA would jeopardise the nation’s sovereignty as corporations could take Malaysia to international arbitration in trade disputes.

Another concern in the agreement is that it would extend patent for medications, which would spike drug prices as generic medication would be disallowed from being sold.

On Saturday, 14 NGO members were arrested by the Sabah police for staging a protest outside the Sutera Harbour Resort in Kota Kinabalu, where the government officials were engaged in the TPPA talks.

Calling TPPA an important agreement, Liow said that the government should scrutinise the deal thoroughly in order not to jeopardise the nation’s sovereignty.

“It’s good agreement as it will create a lot of economic opportunity for us but it must not cause any sovereignty problems later on,” he said.

The former health minister pointed out that he had rejected several clauses in the TPPA deal during his tenure, namely the patent extension and to include tobacco as a commodity.

“I opposed to the patent extension as it will cause drug prices to increase. Plus, I also objected to categorising tobacco as a commodity.

“Tobacco companies could sue us if we impose stricter laws on its sales later,” said Liow.

On why the government was being secretive of the agreement, the MCA leader said he was unsure of the matter.

“Probably some government officers felt it was unnecessary to engage the public as it was just preliminary talks but it is not right. People want to know what’s happening,” said Liow.

When asked if he supported calls by Pakatan Rakyat to form a select committee to scrutinise the TPPA deal, Liow said,” A select committee is okay but it will take time. What is important is for MITI to engage all stakeholders.”

Also read:

Musa: Study TPPA, don’t rush into it

Local contractors will suffer under TPPA’

TPPA negotiations: Why the secrecy?


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